It won’t be long and we will be arriving at September 1st and looking at another academic year. In this blog series I am looking at how we can plan for every month of the year. I have already looked at what you could be doing in August, and now I am going to share some thoughts on September.
September is a crucial month for music departments. Not only are you welcoming new students to the school, but you are also launching another year of events, rehearsals and concerts. Starting the year well is important and links to how well you rested and planned in August.
Start by ensuring that every student in the school is reminded of the opportunities available to them. Make sure that you get yourself into that first assembly of the year and start selling you department from the off. We start in Year 9 in Windsor and I love meeting the new cohort first thing on day one.
Also, having read a great book called “Start with Why”, I am remembering that the focus for the year is creating a community of musicians for whom I give amazing opportunities and experiences throughout the year. I am going to be working on my WHY throughout August.
Planning for September
There are some things that I like to do before September so that I am ready for the year ahead:
- Tidy classroom – it is never fun going in to school during the holiday, but I always run out of time at the end of the year.
- Create a calendar of events and get in touch with venues, charities and businesses that we have worked with in the past.
- Read a couple of books to get me inspired for the year ahead and help me with my planning.
- Order music for ensembles so that I have it all ready for those first rehearsals.
- Email current students to remind them how valued they are and how important the year ahead is. I often send a separate email to my Year 13 students who are going to be at the top of the school and crucial for the department.
Ten Tips for September
- First Assembly – Make sure you speak in this assembly and where possible have some musicians performing.
- Have your Extra Curricular Schedule mapped out for the year ahead – and make sure you stick to it. Give this to students so that they know when things are happening and where.
- Start rehearsals straight away. I have a rehearsal on day one and I find that it just gets the ball rolling.
- Organise a “Welcome Meeting” for new parents and current musicians. Do this in the first week and make sure that you use it to set out your vision for the year ahead.
- On day one, invite all the new musicians to come to the music room at lunchtime so you can get to know them. Use sweets (or fruit) as a bribe!
- Plan lessons for the new cohort that are exciting and inspiring. Fuel these lessons with your own passion for music. This year I will be looking at this concept of WHY we study music. For your current students, ensure that the first lesson of term is also exciting and energising.
- It is a good idea to request cover/leave of absence for the Music Expo which usually place in October (Manchester) or February/March (London) and also any other key events. Getting requests in early is a good plan!
- If you are an NQT then make sure you work out who your mentor is and also what local music teachers you can turn to for support. Start to build your network. If you have been teaching a while, then get in touch with your network and start new conversations. Make sure you get in touch with your music hub.
- In the last week of September I always put on a small scale concert for new students & Year 10 GCSE students. This is a chance to see some talent on display and a first official performance for GCSE students. Don’t worry about a big venue or audience, just make sure it happens.
- Start thinking about Christmas. Sounds mad I know, but it comes around quickly. Don’t start playing carols, but get your choirs and ensembles formed and solid so that they are ready.
I Love September
The start of the year is fantastic, a chance to Re-Start and Re-Ignite. I have been teaching for a while now and I must say that I find myself doing the same things every year. I have stuff that works for me and I find that consistency is great. Whatever you do, make sure that you make the most of that first week of term. Get the students on board early and they will stick with you for the rest of the year.
I hope that you have a great start to the year when it arrives.